Program Notes

National Conductor Preview

Thursday, March 17th

Since 1995, the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview has showcased 90 conductors, with more than 50 orchestras making conductor/music director appointments as a direct result.
The League’s Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview is one of the field’s most prestigious events for conductors to showcase their talent nationally.

Attending search committees and artist managers will have intimate, front-row access to watch and evaluate participants in rehearsal. Ample time is also available to meet and have productive conversations with the participants. A free public concert brings the Preview to a close, with each conductor leading the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in a short program featuring an exciting lineup of orchestral music.

Six conductors have been chosen by an adjudication panel of leading artistic executives from a pool of more than 150 applications from around the world. Selected for their podium talent and commitment to American orchestras, the conductors will lead the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra over two days of rehearsals, culminating in a public concert at the historic Orpheum Theater in New Orleans.

Conductor Bios

François López-Ferrer

Conductor François López-Ferrer is the assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival. He provides artistic support to CSO Music Director Louis Langrée and May Festival Principal Conductor

Juanjo Mena, as well as conducting the CSO Young People’s Concerts. He recently came to international attention after a critically-acclaimed debut with the Verbier Festival Orchestra, jumping in for Iván Fischer and conducting alongside Sir Simon Rattle and Gabor Takacs-Nagy in 2018. The Spanish-American conductor is also Principal Conductor of the Ballet Nacional Chileno and previously served as Associate Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile.

López-Ferrer has participated in masterclasses with Maestri Paavo and Neeme Järvi, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Leonid Grin, and Mario Venzago, among others. He was previously a member of the prestigious Deutsche Dirigentenforum of the German Music Council and holds a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Haute École de Musique de Lausanne and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Yuwon Kim

from Daegu, is currently the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at Curtis Institute of Music, where she works closely with Curtis mentor conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The winner of the 2018 Princess Astrid International Music Competition, Kim has worked with Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich; the Netherlands, Bad Reichenhall, and South Czech philharmonics; the North Netherlands, Trondheim, St. Petersburg, Korean and Prague symphony orchestras; Residentie Orkest The Hague; the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra; and the Austrian Ensemble for New Music. She has also assisted Thomas Adès and Juanjo Mena at Los Angeles Philharmonic, Xian Zhang at NJO: Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy, and Jac van Steen at Opera North (U.K.). In 2015 Kim was awarded the Holland Scholarship from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, and in 2014 she received the Robert Spano Conductor Prize from the Aspen Music Festival and School. 

Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in composition and conducting from Seoul National University and a Master of Music with distinction from Mozarteum University Salzburg, where she studied conducting with Dennis Russell Davies, Hans Graf, and Bruno Weil. She has also participated in masterclasses with Marc Albrecht, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin, and David Zinman. 

Norman Huynh

American conductor Norman Huynh continues to build a reputation as one of classical music’s most adventurous ambassadors. Hailed for the exuberance with which he leads orchestras across Europe, Asia, and North America, Huynh’s ability to attract new audiences to the orchestra has received equal renown. The 2020 season inaugurated his tenure as Music Director of the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra, joining an existing appointment as Associate Conductor for the Oregon Symphony. Huynh has attained international prominence in the first years of his career, most recently through an invitation to the Bruno Walter Young Conductor Preview, a selective showcase hosted by the League of American Orchestras.

As a music director, Huynh’s sharp focus on winning over new audiences reflects his own entry point to classical music—namely as a 12-year old “band geek” trombonist in Alabama. Now the first in his family to pursue orchestral music as a career, the euphonium player turned maestro continues to find ways to create these same entry points for others, whether through outreach initiatives or bold concert programming. While still a student at Peabody, he co-founded the Occasional Symphony after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised $5,000, built to celebrate holidays in modern settings, with examples including Dr. Seuss’ birthday at a children’s museum, Halloween in a burnt church, and Cinco de Mayo in the basement bar of a Mexican restaurant. 

A proud first-generation Asian-American, Norman makes his home in Bozeman, Montana, where he enjoys stargazing, skiing, and riding his motorcycle.

Gonzalo Farias

Chilean-born orchestral conductor and award-winning pianist Gonzalo Farias has been recently appointed as the Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony. In an ever-changing world, Gonzalo’s main ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, authenticity, and cooperation among all people in our community. 

While serving as the Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta’s leadership, The Virginia Gazette noted that “with a lyrical, almost Zen-like quality, the amiable Farias established him as a focused, musical artist who knows what he wants and how to get it – with grace and style and substance.” Farias was also the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship for two seasons. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, and Lahav Shani, among many others

Out of 566 applicants from 78 countries, Gonzalo was chosen as one of the 24 finalists of the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, “Mr. Farias offered one of the most fluent, honest, open-hearted and pointed performances.” 

Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He continued at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. His final Doctoral thesis “Logical Predictions and Cybernetics” focused on second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex systems organize, coordinate, and interconnect with one another. As a conductor, he attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher, the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop, worked privately with the late Otto-Werner Mueller, and studied under the guidance of Larry Rachleff for several years.

Tong Chen

Tong Chen has worked with numerous orchestras across the globe, including the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo; Mikkelin Kaupunginorkesteri; Besançon Symphony Orchestra; Leipzig Symphony Orchestra; Alabama Symphony Orchestra; Charleston Symphony Orchestra; and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, she made her Lincoln Center debut at David H. Koch Theater with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. 

Born in Shanghai, China, Ms. Chen is also a regular guest conductor with orchestras throughout China, including the Shanghai Philharmonic, Xia Men Philharmonic, Qing Dao Symphony Orchestra, Guang Zhou Symphony Orchestra, and the Shanghai Opera House, where she worked as the assistant conductor from 2004-2009.

An education advocate, Chen taught orchestral conducting and led the Copland School of Music orchestral program from 2012-2018. Summer 2019 marked her second year as the director of the Queens College Conductor’s workshop, founded by Maurice Peress in 2010. Additionally, she is a regular guest conductor at the Manhattan School of Music and Montclair State University, with the Mannes Pre-College Orchestra and numerous All-State Youth Orchestras in New York State, and a guest lecturer at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. 

Tong Chen’s primary studies were with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Conservatory, where she received her Master’s Degree in conducting; with Maurice Peress at the Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York City; and at the Shanghai Conservatory. In addition, she attended the Aspen Music Festival, where she worked with David Zinman, and the Cabrillo Festival, where she studied with Marin Alsop. Ms. Chen was also a protégé of the former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur, and was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 2012, which allowed her to study the music of Mendelssohn and serve as the assistant conductor for Maestro Masur at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Currently, 

Tong Chen lives in Jersey City with her family and their dog, Kimi.

Bertie Baigent

Described as “a force to be reckoned with” (Opera Magazine), British-born Bertie Baigent has been Music Director of Waterperry Opera Festival since 2017 and recently completed his two-year tenure as Assistant Conductor of the Colorado Symphony. In the orchestral world, recent and forthcoming engagements include the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino, Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini Parma, New Japan Philharmonic, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. As winner designate of the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam, he will also return to the Netherlands in 2022 to conduct the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Doelen Ensemble, and Sinfonia Rotterdam. Baigent recently won 3rd prize, orchestra prize, and the special Hideo Saito prize at the Tokyo International Conducting Competition, and was immediately re-invited for subsequent engagements in Japan.

While working with the Colorado Symphony Baigent assisted Music Director Brett Mitchell as well as guest conductors including Jun Märkl, Alexander Shelley, Carlos Kalmar, and Rossen Milanov; elsewhere Baigent has assisted conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Masaaki Suzuki, Edward Gardner, and Finnegan Downie Dear, also serving as cover conductor for the St Louis and Dallas symphony orchestras. Baigent has participated in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins, Jac van Steen, and with the Dirigentenforum in Germany. Baigent is also committed to music education; while working with the Colorado Symphony he devised, presented, and conducted education programs reaching more than 26,000 school children in a year, as well as giving pre-concert talks and public interviews. 

Baigent’s compositions have been widely performed by ensembles including the Aurora Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the BBC Singers, in venues such as Washington National Cathedral and the Royal Festival Hall. He has been awarded prizes and commissions by institutions such as the BBC, the Royal Philharmonic Society, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Baigent read music at the University of Cambridge, winning the Donald Wort Prize and graduating with a double first in 2016; subsequently, he completed his master’s at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating with distinction and the special DipRAM award.

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